Barclays is proud of its mission to become the most inclusive FTSE company for all clients, customers, and colleagues. From ensuring all branches have level access, equipping ATMs with audio functionality, and designing easier to read debit cards, Barclays takes its responsibility to provide accessible services very seriously.
Emanuela Gorla, Accessibility Business Partner at Barclays, has been working in accessibility for over ten years and has helped many major corporations and government departments achieve their accessibility goals. Since joining Barclays in 2017, she has been tasked with increasing the focus on accessibility in e-learning.
We sat down with Emanuela to discuss her passion for digital accessibility and Barclays’ mission to create e-learning resources which are fully in unison with the firm’s accessibility goals.
Here at Skillcast, we’ve learned a lot from working with Barclays. It has opened our own eyes up to how we can do more to create innovative and engaging e-learning content that is accessible for all.
Here’s what Emanuela had to say.
First of all, what are the current priorities within Barclays regarding accessibility at the moment?
Accessibility is particularly important here at Barclays because one of our ambitions is to become the most accessible and inclusive company. It needs to be at the heart of everything we do, including products and services that we build and offer to our clients, our customers, and our colleagues too.
I’m part of the digital accessibility team, so I’m more focused on the digital aspect of it. But we also have different teams in Barclays who make sure, for example, that customers with accessibility needs can access the services they want via telephone banking and in our branches as well as those who provide workplace adjustments for our colleagues. It really impacts the way we work and everything we do.
How important is staff training for compliance within Barclays?
Being a bank, compliance training is something we take very, very seriously. We have many mandatory training courses rolling out every quarter, which all, or many, of our colleagues need to complete.
Clearly, it is particularly important that all our colleagues can fully understand and process the information in these training modules because it will impact the way they act and the way they carry out their work for Barclays.
Can you tell me a little about your journey to make compliance e-learning more accessible and inclusive?
When I joined Barclays, there were already some accessibility requirements around learning, but they were quite high level. It was difficult for both internal teams and suppliers to fully understand what the requirements were and how they could comply with them.
Often, when training is not accessible, it is not because the person designing it didn’t want to make it accessible, but because they weren’t aware of what they needed to do to make it so. With this in mind, we ensured we provided clear guidance that laid out what the requirements were, alongside examples, to make it easier for suppliers and internal teams to comply.
Can you share some examples of small ways you can make e-learning content more accessible?
People often think that everybody will go through the e-learning module with a mouse, but that’s not the reality. There are colleagues who, for different reasons, may not be able to use a mouse. For that reason, it’s really important to ensure that everything is keyboard accessible.
Some developers and content authors may not be aware that for images, you need to provide a textual description for users who cannot see them. But unless you teach them what should be part of the textual description, very often you end up with a description that isn’t particularly useful. It may be describing the actual content of the image instead of the information that it’s trying to communicate.
Hopefully, this demonstrates how important it is to be really specific in terms of what the accessibility requirements are.
Can you tell me about your journey working with Skillcast to create more accessible e-learning content?
After creating the guidance detailing the specifics that need to be considered when designing training, it was shared with all our e-learning suppliers, including Skillcast. This was used as a discussion starter with each company to understand how it could be implemented.
From there it was an interactive and collaborative process where we reviewed the implementation progress together. It took about a year to get to the stage where we were fully happy with what we had co-created.
Some of the changes made included making sure modules could be completed using only the keyboard and making sure all buttons and controls were properly labelled so that people using a screen reader could get the correct information for each component and each button.
Also, things like making sure that if someone is using a screen reader, that the feedback around whether the answer they selected is correct or incorrect is read out automatically. This involved making changes to ensure relevant information is sent instantly to the screen reader.
How have staff within Barclays responded to the new e-learning content?
After launching the first couple of modules with, I gathered feedback from colleagues who are part of our network of colleagues with a disability. The feedback was largely positive - especially for colleagues who were used to just being sent a PDF!
How will you continue to review the accessibility of your e-learning content
First of all, we need to keep monitoring and reviewing the modules we receive, not only from suppliers but also from internal teams. Asking our colleagues for feedback is also very important. We have a network of colleagues who have a disability and are happy to be involved in giving feedback, and they’re really honest about it. They let us know if the modules can be made even easier for them to use in any way. We will definitely try to incorporate more changes moving forward.
What are your ambitions for the future in terms of accessible and inclusive e-learning?
Once we get to the stage where suppliers are fully aware of the accessibility requirements, the next step will be to create even more engaging and innovative training material, still keeping accessibility at the heart of it.
All suppliers now are trying to create this engaging content to make e-learning more enjoyable for everyone and I think that’s great. Accessibility and innovation go hand-in-hand.
Even though there may be some companies out there who don’t include accessibility in their requirements when they engage suppliers for learning materials, I think more and more companies will in the future. Suppliers who do the hard work now to really incorporate accessibility, will be ahead of the game.
To hear what Emanuela had to say about accessibility in e-learning at our recent event, check out the video below.